The Navy’s $29 Billion Ships Broke Down A LOT This Year

(U.S. Navy photo/Released)

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The Navy has 26 new Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), part of a massive project that was supposed to usher in the next generation of naval warfare, but many of these ships have broken down at some point during the past 12 months.

The Government Accountability Office provided a list of seven times an LCS ship suffered mechanical failure over the past year. The recent report suggested the Navy and Congress slow down purchases of the ship to determine whether the program is worth the cost. (RELATED: Report: Navy Needs To Stop Buying This Ship To Prevent Further Cash Hemorrhage)

The Navy said the breakdowns were caused by “to shortfalls in crew training, seaframe design, and construction quality,” GAO said.

The USS Milwaukee, the fifth LCS ship delivered to the Navy, broke down less than a month after it was commissioned Nov. 21. The USS Fort Worth broke down in January, USS Freedom broke down in July, USS Coronado in August and the USS Montgomery had failures three times in the course of a month and a half during September and October. (RELATED: Second Navy Combat Ship Goes Down Because Someone Forgot To Check The Oil)

Over the summer, the Navy issued a fleet-wide engineering stand down order while crews retrained. “Given the engineering casualties on USS Freedom and USS Fort Worth, I believe improvements in engineering oversight and training are necessary,” Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander in the naval surface forces, said.

Rowden also increased the crew requirements for the ship. LCS was initially supposed to be operated by around 55 seamen, but after the breakdowns, the Navy increased the staffing requirements to 70 and increased the rate of crew rotation.


In testimony before Congress Thursday, GAO Director for Acquisition and Sourcing Management Michele Mackin wondered, “who pays for these types of damage and deficiencies?”

It could be the responsibility of the makers of the ship — Lockheed Martin Co. and Austal both make similar versions of the LCS — to fix the errors, but GAO said it’s more likely taxpayers’ responsibility. “Our past work has found that, by virtue of using guaranty provisions as opposed to warranties … the Navy is responsible for paying for the vast majority of these defects,” Mackin said.

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